The Fuse: Gridlock
The Fuse: Gridlock is more obviously science fiction than the first volume, The Russia Shift. This time around, detectives Klem and Ralph are investigating a body found during a gridlocking race. That’s when spacesuited daredevils illegally compete on maglev bikes across the solar arrays that run the space station. Very high-tech, although the motivations are universal, regardless of the future setting.
I don’t hear many people talking about this tightly plotted SF mystery series by Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood, which is a shame. The Fuse isn’t flashy, but it’s consistently good entertainment with solid, storytelling illustration and dialogue full of meaning and presence. It’s precisely the kind of thing comics should be — a glimpse into another possible world, one with realistic personalities experiencing events beyond the usual. The art and writing work together well to build new possibilities, and the skill behind them doesn’t announce itself unless you go looking for it.
In this case, the mystery turns twisty almost immediately. The racer’s body turns out to be that of the sport’s spokesperson, who was competing under an alias; she’s also the daughter of a privileged family. Then they find drugs near her corpse, which sends them into the Fuse’s slum, Smacktown. Plus, gridlocking, although illegal and very risky, is immensely popular, and there was going to be a huge money-making deal for broadcast rights, adding another potential motive.
As the detectives pursue their case, we get to see more of how this on-the-edge society works, both physically, as they investigate the station rigging, and politically, with various factions holding their territory. I really like this procedural for the way clues are naturally revealed and the way the setting becomes more real as the story unfolds. It feels dense, in a good way, with lots of information. Some comics are a quick read; this one demands your attention. That’s why the collections are such a good choice, because you can keep all the suspects and motives in your head while reading it through in one sitting.
The Fuse: Gridlock collects issues #7-12 for $14.99. It’s due in comic book stores on June 3 and can be ordered now with Diamond code APR15 0584. Bookstores will have it June 16. Issue #12, completing this mystery, is due out April 29. Issue #13 starts a new case in August.